Frying chiles, charring tortillas, and not getting burned...
Chef Alonso Hernandez Juarez and Isis Moreno from the lovely Boutique Hotel Mesones Sacristia in Puebla share some tips for how to make the perfect mole sauce at home.
Mole poblano is one of Mexicos national dishes. Nuns in the convents of Puebla developed the original recipe by combining ingredients and techniques indigenous to Mexico with those of Europe. It is characterized by its dark, deep brown color which it gets from both chocolate and the chiles. This is a home-style mole poblano that we learned from a lovely woman named Teresa. She learned to make mole by watching her mother cook it for the family as a child. We have tweaked the recipe only slightly. We would like to remind you that ingredients and spices change from place to place. It is important for you to adjust the quantities and ingredients according to your own tastes and kitchen conditions. In Mexico, each family has its own mole, with different ingredients and secrets. This recipe is open for interpretation, and we encourage you to make this mole your own.
For the Mole and Chicken:
1 whole chicken, quartered
6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
11 Ancho chiles
2 Guajillo chiles
1/4 cup raw almonds
Small handful cloves
Small handful black peppercorns
Small handful allspice
1 small cinnamon stick (broken up into small pieces
1/4 cup raisins
6 pitted prunes
2 tomatoes, halved
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 plantain (you can use a regular banana if you cant find plantains), peeled and quartered
1/4 cup sesame seeds
Sunflower seed oil, grapeseed oil, or another high heat vegetable oil
2 rounds of Mexican drinking chocolate, such as Abuelita
2 T brown sugar (optional)
1 white onion, sliced in strips
2 T toasted sesame seeds
Bring the chicken or vegetable broth to a boil in a large pot.
Toast the chiles in a dry medium hot skillet on all sides. When cool enough to handle, remove their veins and seeds.
Heat up some oil in a cast iron skillet or deep saute pan and fry the almonds and spices in the hot oil. When the almonds have gained a little bit of color, transfer everything with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towel.
In the same oil, fry the raisins and prunes for about 1 minute. Transfer to the plate.
Add the tomatoes to the oil and fry until they gain color.
Fry the chile peppers, in batches, until they slightly change color adding more oil to the skillet if necessary.
Fry the plantain in the hot oil, browning it on all sides.
Toast the sesame seeds until lightly browned in the pan, stirring constantly. Remove and let cool.
Blend together the almonds, spices (except cinnamon), raisins, prunes, tomatoes, plantain, and sesame seeds with enough broth to make a thick sauce. Add the chiles and continue to blend until perfectly smooth. Season with the salt and cumin.
Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Add about two tablespoons of oil to the pan. Place skin side down in the hot skillet, working in batches if necessary, until the skin is nice and brown. Flip over and cover the skillet and cook the chicken through, about half an hour. Remove from pan.
Melt the chocolate in the same pan and pour over the blended sauce. Add the cinnamon stick back into the pot.
Add the chicken pieces to the pot and bring the sauce to a boil. Let the sauce cook down until nice and thick, while the chicken gains the flavor of the sauce.
For the garnish: Place the onion strips in a medium sized bowl and sprinkle with salt. Pour over enough boiling water to cover the onion and let sit for about 5-10 minutes. Drain the onion and use as a topping for the mole.
The Kitchen Caravan is a blog and cooking show devoted to creating healthy food using fresh, seasonal ingredients. Reprinted with permission.
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